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1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die Hardcover – February 7, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This bookshelf-busting testament to music geeks' mania for lists is about as comprehensive a "best-of" as any sane person could want. Editor Dimery and the army of 90 music critics he drafted to compile this beast begin in the 1950s with Frank Sinatra, end in 2005 with The White Stripes and cover every genre, sub-genre, fad, flash-in-the-pan and musical movement that hit in the intervening years, taking each on their own merits. So, noise-and-terror group Lightning Bolt (featuring "a 'singer' who barks through a contact microphone taped inside a gimp mask") gets lauded as a "truly challenging listening experience," Bon Jovi's "Slippery When Wet" gets dubious props for turning "heavy metal into a pop genre that women would be able to love" and Yoko Ono gets ignored. Arranged chronologically and with an excellent index, the book's a pleasure to peruse. Hundreds of jacket art reproductions accompany original track listings, and the critic-penned album summaries are brisk, informed, devoid of snark and full of argument-ending trivia. As with any list, there are bound to be glaring omissions and contentious inclusions, though Dimery buffets the book somewhat by disqualifying from consideration compilations, greatest hits albums and most soundtracks. For music lovers, it doesn't get much better.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Robert Dimery is a writer and editor who has worked for numerous magazines, including Time Out and Vogue. Michael Lydon was a founding editor of Rolling Stone. His books include Rock Folk, Boogie Lightning, and Ray Charles: Man and Music.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 960 pages
  • Publisher: Universe (February 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789313715
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789313713
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 2.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (55 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

127 of 138 people found the following review helpful By rpopstar on March 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
distortion in music can be great, just ask my bloody valentine...but distortion in history...well, that's a different story...

if you take this book seriously..you end up with the following conclusions:

*1990-2004 were the "golden years" of rock music
**the beatles killed jazz
***black people didn't make music in the 60's

since the book is broken down by decades...i did some quick number crunching and discovered that almost 25% of the book is from the '90s...
include the last 16 years...and it's over a third.....[there's 23 listings from 2004 alone....] by comparison the 50s and 60's combined produce 17% of the picks...every other list of this type i've ever seen flips those numbers around...

the problem with their "recent music" picks is that every catagory is overstuffed [brit rock, indie rock, rap] and that problem is compounded by the fact that the editors give multiple listings to lots of artists who you really only "need" to hear one to "get" them...

some recent "duplicates" include:
a tribe called quest
the beta band
chemical brothers
divine comedy
missy elliot
fatboy slim
hole [one is one too many]
ice cube
kinks of leon
manic street preachers
primal scream
radiohead [i luv them, but FIVE pics?]
rufus wainwright ["want two" is not nearly as good as "want one."]
white stripes
the award for the most rediculous artist with multiple listings: dexy's midnight runners..[3!!!
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Gregor von Kallahann on July 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Of all the various 1001...BEFORE YOU DIE books, this one at least made me feel like I had begun to scratch the surface--not that you should be deliberately scratching an album's surface, of course. But you know what I mean. The 1001 BOOKS volume had me feeling like I was not so well-read after all. And the MOVIES version gave me a definite sense of not being all that, uh, "well-screened."

But I can lay claim to being--shall we say?--"well-turntabled," (and that may not be such a misnomer since my halcyon listening days were before the CD era). So at least I have a good percentage of the middle section of this volume's recommendations under my belt.

And I find that I don't really dispute that many of the selections. I see a lot of reviewers have, true to form, protested the inclusion of this artist and the omission of that. I could gripe too. I mean including THREE Madonna albums and only one Laura Nyro?? Come on now, really. One of those ladies is the penultimate pop star, to be sure, but the other was a genius.

And yeah, I could complain that the albums included are often among the "safest" a given artist or group ever produced (SURREALISTIC PILLOW for the Airplane, not AFTER BATHING AT BAXTER'S, say, or CHELSEA GIRL for Nico and not THE MARBLE INDEX or DESERTSHORE). But still it's nice to see so many of my favorite artists included at all.

And it's also kinda nice to see these works still referred to as ALBUMS. "CD" (like "tape") is a FORMAT, but even in the age of downloads (especially in the age of downloads), we need to remind ourselves that there is something special about a COLLECTION of songs by a given artist or band.
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47 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Keith on September 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I just got this book, and have gone though and ticked off the albums they list in my collection. I have a grand total of 115 of the 1001; mostly clustered between 1966 and 1972. Typical, I suppose of a lot of people my age. The book provides me an interesting touch stone that will help me expand outside of the 'golden era' I think.

Several points trouble me about the book however:

1) It has reminded me that I still haven't replaced a bunch of records that an ex-roommate stole from me - including my entire first release Beatles collection. (My total might have topped 150 I think).

2) While no list like this, however large, is going to satisfy everyone, how anyone could include Britney Spears in this list is beyond my imagination. If they just had to have an obvious example of late nineties bubblegum, they could have picked someone with just a little bit of talent, like maybe Kylie Minogue. I expect 99.44% of all readers could think of several omitted albums that would be more appropriate. I myself can't see how they could leave out the Moody Blues' Days of Future Passed, or John Coltrane's Blue Train but find room for Spears.

3) While not actually gathered onto an album until decades after the 78's were recorded, I think a 'special case' should have been made for Louis Armstrong's Hot Fives and Hot Sevens. It is not an overstatement to say that without these recordings, very little of the music on the 1001 albums chosen could have ever existed. And even though the 'LP album' as such wasn't invented until much later, taken together they are very much in the general mode of an album, capturing a special time in the artists development and a turning point in popular music.

4) Although this is "1001 Albums..." not "1001 Artists...
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